Title: The Significance of Environmental Revolution In Engineering Education
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00001423/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Significance of Environmental Revolution In Engineering Education
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publisher: Florida Engineering Society Journal
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: The Significance of Environmental Revolution In Engineering Education, Charles A. Strokes, April 1991
General Note: Box 8, Folder 5 ( Vail Conference, 1995 - 1995 ), Item 37
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00001423
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Photo courtesy of the Floride Audubon Society

The Significance of

The Environmental Revolution

In Engineering Education

Ed. note-The following is the text of a speech given Charles A. Stokes, P.E.
by Dr. Clharles "Andy" Stokes, P.E., Universitti of Florida
Class of '38, on the occasion of his acceptance of the 7990
R. W. Fahien Alumni Award. The award is presented to a
UF alumnus for distinguished service and contribution
to the chemical engineering profession.
N ever again will a well-qualified, responsible
engineer manipulate matter or energy with-
out having, as an overriding consideration,
the effects his actions will have on the environment.
Perhaps, in the manner of the physician's
Hippocratic oath, we should have engineers take
such an oath as this upon entering practice: "1, as a
practicing engineer, will never fail to observe the

ROCIFTY rol inNAI Av t


laws of conservation of mass and energy
in all my work and I will faithfully rec-
ognize that every pound of matter that I
manipulate and every Btu of energy that
I use must be accounted for in a respon-
sible manner and used efficiently."
In the past, we engineers have often
failed in two ways:
(1) We did not account accurately for
matter and energy that wasn't converted
0"N salable or re-useable forms in our pro-
(2) Even when we did account for
matter and energy accurately, we didn't
always act responsibly on what we didn't
want, letting it go into the environment
without thought of consequences.
Today we are faced with rising costs
of finding and converting raw energy to
forms of energy useable by man. Fur-
ther, we are faced with possible dire en-
vironmental consequences of the side ef-
fects of energy conversion such that the
more we convert, the worse the problem
becomes. Consequently, we may need to
include the second law of thermody-
namics in the engineer's oath of practice
so that we may always strive to get the
most useable work and heat out of en-
ergy when it is converted from one form
to another.
The environmental movement, which
began in earnest about 25 years ago, had
an induction period of about 10 years.
Then it entered an exponential growth
phase, becoming today an effort of mas-
sive proportions, growing still at an ever-
increasing rate.
Hidden away in the environmental
Movement is an insidious anti-technol-
ogy campaign carried on by people who
are simply not thinking straight about
the hand that fed them. Technology has
no life of its own. It can do nothing with-

out direction and implementation by
humans. All of us are responsible for its
use. The problem is that very few of us
understand it, and the vast majority of
the populace doesn't. Thus, a third part
of the engineer's oath might concern a
pledge to help others understand technol-
ogy and to use it in a beneficial manner.
For longer than I like to admit, I have
consistently underestimated the envi-
ronmental movement and the undercur-
rents within it. But in the last 10 or 15
years it has finally dawned on me what
is going on. The practice of engineering
has been altered forever. This alteration
has brought into focus questions of an
individual engineer's ethics that hardly
needed to be considered formerly except
by those few of us in private practice
who served the public directly.
We have a distinct obligation in engi-
neering education to send out into the
world engineers who are fully alerted to
the way the world now views both the
environment and the technology with
which we manipulate it. Engineers must
be prepared to accept not only corporate
or group responsibility in this respect,
but individual responsibility as well.
When necessary, and at not inconsider-
able career risk, engineers must be pre-
pared to speak up contrary to group
policy to protect the public. Thus the
whole matter of ethics and professional-
ism takes on a new light in the Environ-
mental Age.
We cannot expect to make environ-
mental engineering specialists out of all
engineers. A few can so specialize and
our University has a strong Environ-
mental Engineering Sciences Department
for this purpose. But every kind of engi-
neer needs to leave here with a thor-
oughly grounded awareness of the sig-

nificance of his work in relation to envi-
ronmental change. This ranges, for ex-
ample, all the way from worrying about
the little-understood effects of weak and
invisible electromagnetic radiation from
power lines to the discharge of minute
traces of heavy metals from a chemical
A way to give this awareness might
be a general course required of all engi-
neers, graduate or undergraduate, that
deals with the principles of environmen-
tal control. It could be multidisciplinary,
with lectures by professors from various
departments supplemented by carefully
chosen outside lecturers. It should have
problems, a special project for each stu-
dent, and examinations. In short, it
should be for real, not just some easy
course full of broad generalities and good
chances for an occasional nap.
Our University is on an increasingly
successful campaign for excellence. What
better way to demonstrate this excellence
than to acquire a reputation with indus-
try, governments, and the public of al-
ways turning out engineers who are
aware of the effects of their work on the
environment and who are pledged to
keep the public's welfare uppermost at
all times?
I realize that department heads and
deans cannot suddenly insert yet more
subject matter into already crowded
curricula. However, this is a matter of
such educational importance that I ear-
nestly hope you will give it your careful
consideration. N

Charles "Andy" Stokes, P.E., serves on
the FES Energy Cormmittee. He recently pre-
sented a $300,00(0 Ivqcest to the LlUnirsity
of Florida for an endoued professorship in
the chemical engineering department.


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